Stephen Curry had one of those nights on Wednesday when he human-torched the Washington Wizards to the tune of 51 points on 11 of 15 from three ... in three quarters. The Warriors won the game, 144-122, and probably could've threatened something close to 160 points had Curry played in the fourth. Seriously, take a look at some of these shots he hit:
Even by Curry standards, are you kidding with some of those? When this dude gets going it's just a complete joke what he can do in rendering the best players in the world utterly helpless. Hands on their head, eyes wide, like: "What the hell am I supposed to do with that?" Newsflash: There is nothing you can do. Well, I suppose if you're John Wall and Bradley Beal, you can stop this nonsense of trying to put yourselves in the same backcourt class as Curry and Klay Thompson, but other than that, no, there is nothing you can do.
That said, the amazing thing about Curry in his most matured basketball state is that even when he gets cooking like this, he doesn't completely forget the other elements of the game. He fires up some crazy shots, no doubt. As he should when he's this hot. But as Kevin Durant noted, he continues to play the game the right way, even in his heightened state of aggression. He keeps taking advantage of defenders' jumpiness to go by them and create for teammates. He keeps moving without the ball, getting to his scoring spots on auto pilot. He just continues to make things look so easy.
"He did such a good job of staying aggressive and shooting good shots, not just coming down shooting heat-checks every time," Durant said of Curry. "He was getting to the rim. Getting fouled. And a professional scorer like that, he was just in a zone at that point. ... It was a joy to be on the same court as [Curry]. That was sick. ... He's a pure artist, and tonight it was no different."
A few notes: The 51 points are tied for the third most of Curry's career. The 11 threes fall two short of the single-game NBA record 13 triples he hit against New Orleans last season. This is the sixth time Curry has hit 11 or more threes in a game, and if you need some perspective on just how ridiculous that is, no other player in NBA history has had more than one such game. In fact, there have only been seven such games -- total -- by every other player in history combined. Curry has six by himself. Think about that.
So let's get to the MVP conversation, shall we?
We all know it's early, and that by the end of the season Curry and Kevin Durant -- who, oh by the way, finished with 30 points on 13 of 19 from the field on Wednesday -- will likely end up canceling out one another's candidacy, as silly as that is. But if we're going to have an honest MVP conversation, and Curry keeps anything close to this up, there will be no way to keep him out of it. Through five games, Curry is averaging 34.6 points on 52 percent from three. The 33 triples he's hit so far are more than four entire teams. When you factor in the difficulty of the shots he's taking, that 52 percent mark is mind-boggling.
"Players that have been in the league for a while, that won a couple MVPs, I'm sure the voters tend to overlook them," Durant said. "Not maliciously, but it's just the fact that they're looking for the next player. You've got to wake them up with games like that. Steph definitely did that tonight."
Indeed, Curry has long since entered that counter-intuitive realm of NBA superstardom where his greatness actually works against him in the public perception. The standard he has set is so astronomically high that it takes nights like Wednesday to even get all that excited about anything he does anymore. Warriors great Rick Barry was asked during the telecast if Curry was the greatest shooter ever. Are we still having to ask this question? Barry qualified his answer by saying Curry is the best "distance" shooter ever, but that's sort of like saying Michael Jordan was the best "mid-range" scorer. No, he was just the best scorer. No qualification needed. But, yes, if we insist on continuing to treat Curry as if he's just some long-bombing anomaly, then let's at least indulge ourselves in the absurdity of the following career numbers from three:
Warriors' Stephen Curry is the NBA's all-time leader in games with...— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 25, 2018
5+ threes: 185
6+ threes: 106
7+ threes: 61
8+ threes: 38
9+ threes: 17
10+ threes: 10
11+ threes: 6
12+ threes: 2
13+ threes: 1.
Is this serious? The guy has hit six threes or more in a game 106 times? Seven or more 61 times? Eight or more 38 times? Do you know how hard it is to hit eight threes in a game? That is an absolute career game for most of the best shooters in history, and Curry has done it 38 times? The thing I keep going back to is Curry, the greatest shooter dead or alive, might not even be the most flammable scorer on his own team. Remember that time Thompson poured in 37 points in one quarter and 61 points in 29 minutes? I mean come on. These dudes are playing with a glitch.
Last note: With Curry going for 51 and Durant 30, this marks the first time the Warriors have had a 50-point and a 30-point scorer since Wilt Chamberlain (61) and Paul Arizin (31) did it for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962. These Warriors, in other words, are really good. Curry is really, really good. Steve Kerr watches Curry every day and still doesn't know what to say.
Steve Kerr on Steph's 51:— Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) October 25, 2018
"He was, I don't even know how to describe what I witnessed tonight. Amazing, video-game stuff."
Bradley Beal is equally tongue-tied:
Bradley Beal when asked what the defense can do when Steph Curry gets in a zone like that: "Probably foul the s--- out of him, that's probably what we should have done. And even when we did that, he was still making them. So I don't know."— Colin Ward-Henninger (@ColinCBSSports) October 25, 2018